The Philippines should not let itself be portrayed by China as a war-mongering nation, the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) said Wednesday.
“We should learn from what had happened in the 2012 Scarborough Shoal standoff. We cannot allow ourselves to fall again in the gray zone trap of China to paint the Philippine image as a war-mongering nation,” Commodore Jay Tarriela, PCG Spokesperson for the West Philippine Sea said in a forum.
Tarriela said the strategy now is to use white ships to prevent the worsening tension among other countries which also have claims in the South China Sea.
“The current approach, for now, is to tap our white ships. The strategy is in accordance with regional norms so that we can de-escalate the tension among other claimant states and at the same time does not provoke other countries,” he said. .
According to Tarriela, the PCG’s role as the “mouthpiece” of the National Task Force West Philippine Sea “allows the like-minded states to express condemnation and reproach which puts Beijing into spotlight.”
“Chinese actions in the shadows are now checked which also forces them to come out in the open and publicly lie. This behavior can be seen when the pointing of the military-grade laser incident was publicized,” he said.
Tarriela also recommended ways to address the tensions in the gray zone areas in the South China Sea.
He said the national government should support the PCG’s modernization.
“The Philippine Coast Guard’s additional offshore patrol vessels, aircraft and establishment of MDA (model driven architecture) infrastructure, and construction of Coast Guard response bases will definitely increase our capability in monitoring our gray zone activities, not just in the West Philippine Sea, but even in various parts of the country,” Tarriela said.
He added that the acquiring these vessels would not be seen as a “naval arms race” since they are white vessels.
Tarriel also said that the country should maintain the PCG as the primary option in patrolling the West Philippine Sea as supported by the Philippine Navy.
“Designating Philippine Coast Guard as the primary option to sustain our presence invigorates cooperation and collaboration beyond advancing territorial interests in the South China Sea,” he said.
“The Coast Guard cooperation is valuable in addressing non-traditional security threats, promoting rules-based governance and ensuring Southeast Asia’s waterways are safe and secure. The PCG was able to harmonize its approach with countries in Vietnam, Malaysia, Japan, and even the United States,” he added. Jaspearl Tan/DMS
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